The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) on Friday postponed the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, scheduled between September 10 to 25, following "detailed discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC)".
The OCA took the decision at its Executive Board meeting currently underway in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where its director general, Husain Al Musallam, and acting president, Randhir Singh, were present.
The fresh dates for the quadrennial continental showpiece will be announced in "due course", said the statement. The decision has come after several provinces of China reported a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games too were postponed by a year because of Covid-19 and held last year.
"Following detailed discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), the OCA Executive Board (EB) today decided to postpone the 19th Asian Games, which were scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, from 10 to 25 September 2022. The new dates of the 19th Asian Games will be agreed between the OCA, the COC and the HAGOC (Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee) and announced in the near future," said the OCA statement.
Media reports had been speculating about the postponement of the Asian Games for the last fortnight, and the decision did not come as a surprise, given the prevailing pandemic situation in China and other Asian countries.
"HAGOC has been very well prepared to deliver the Games on time despite global challenges. However, the above decision was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the Games. The name and the emblem of the 19th Asian Games will remain unchanged, and the OCA believes that the Games will achieve complete success through the joint efforts of all parties," said the OCA statement.
China had previously hosted the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.
The OCA also said that the Asian Youth Games Shantou 2021, which had been postponed earlier, will be cancelled now.
"Additionally, the OCA EB also studied the situation of the 3rd Asian Youth Games, which was scheduled on 20-28 December this year in Shantou, China. After discussion with the COC and the Organising Committee, the OCA EB decided that as the Asian Youth Games had already been postponed once, the Asian Youth Games Shantou 2021 will be cancelled. The next Asian Youth Games will therefore be held in 2025 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
"The OCA thanks Shantou Organising Committee for its great work during the preparation phase. We strongly believe that this effort will be beneficial to many different aspects of the development of the city, especially in the field of sport as well as for the promotion of Olympic spirit in Asia," said the statement.